Monday, April 6, 2009

Places, Everyone!

So I have auditions tonight for a play.

This time, however, I'm directing the show rather than acting in one.

This will be the second show I've directed. The first being a co-directing stint with my very good friend, Gianna, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Tonight's auditions are for a show called "Never Too Late" and the basic line is this: a grown woman, with a domineering husband and a 23-year-old daughter, finds out she is pregnant again.

It's a funny, funny piece and I think people here will love it.

I have to be honest though. I've got mixed feelings. Not nervousness. how can you be nervous directing a show? I mean, come on, I don't have to remember the lines or blocking. I get to direct everyone right up to opening night, and then sit back and enjoy.

If I'm nervous about anything it's that no one will show up for auditions. I have a persecution complex when it comes to the local theater group. I feel like none of them like me. Well, not all of them. but most of them. It's not based on anything, which is why it's probably entirely not true. But haven't you ever walked into a room of people and just felt like they didn't really want you to be there? You can't fathom why, it's just a gut feeling.

Anyway. Back to those mixed feelings. I'm torn because I really enjoy performing. When I was in high school I wanted so badly to be part of the drama club but I chickened out. That and I really could not relate to the whack jobs who were in drama back then. they seemed so ... out there, to me. So ... over dramatic. So ... fucking weird.

It wasn't until I was 30 that I got up the nerve to try out for a show. this was when i was working as a reporter for a newspaper in St. Johnsbury. A fellow writer was trying out for a show with his then-girlfriend and asked if I wanted to go. I agreed to.

The play was "The Rainmaker" (which was a movie starring Katherine Hepburn back in the day, FYI.)

I remember the audition. I remember the electric feeling of reading my lines against the others auditioning. I remember being thrilled that I got the part when I had no expectation.

I defied my own inner demons about public speaking and performing and, at 30, finally got on stage.

I have loved it since.

I upped the ante in the next show I was in, The Pajama Game, by actually singing. It was a horrible show, and not just because of my singing. The production was bad, the in-fighting among some of the cast, it was not well-attended.

In fact, on opening night, the very first opening number included everyone in the cast singing and dancing around sewing machines (it takes place in a Midwestern pajama factory). And when we finished the number with the usual grand flourish, there was a one-second beat, a smattering of applause, and then, from deep into the auditorium a woman's voice, saying "That was horrible!"

Yikes. Welcome to live community theater.

I still loved the experience though. And a year later got the chance to co-direct "Into the Woods" with my friend and Pajama Game dance-mate, Gianna.

It was, and I believe still is, considered to be one of St. Johnsbury's most-loved shows. No, not because of the directing. Because it's a fantastic musical and we had an amazing cast. Down the line, every cast member seemed capable.

I ended up moving to Minnesota and did not get back on stage until a few years later when I auditioned here in Maine for a part in "The Nerd." It was fun, and as exciting as ever, to get back up on stage. I followed that with "1940s Radio Hour", a musical. And then, "You Can't Take It With You" followed by "The Odd Couple."

That was a few years ago. I've taken time off. Gabrielle was born, we bought a house, we had Griffin. Life takes a front row seat. But now I'm back to directing.

Tonight will be the first time at the helm, making decisions about the cast, the blocking, etc. And my big worry is that no one will audition.

This is community theater. Either they come or they don't. I suppose that's the charm of it.


  1. I'm sure regardless of a large turnout or small, you'll have a great show! Will be looking forward to treking up to Maine and seeing it! Pajama Game did, however, yeild some good stories! You forgot to mention being clocked by the incredibly heavy sewing machine!

  2. I'm glad I found your new blog AND that you're back to blogging again!

    Drama Club was the only reason I went to school and graduated. LOL! I understand your love for the stage. It is a virus. Once you catch it, you can't shake it!

  3. As someone currently on hiatus from community theatre (I dabble lightly through a friend when she directs)... as someone who has directed, been onstage, stage managed, and everything in between...


  4. Awww...thanks Liz!

    We theater "fags" are the best


  5. Don't you mean "THESPIAN"?

    Hey, I'll be there to distract you if nobody shows up. If it's just us and Connie, we'll read scenes to each other and talk about how nobody understand theater. I'll bring the booze.

  6. I'm the someone Liz is talking about, although she keeps in touch with others, too. I'm currently on my fifth 'expedition' as a director in community theatre. I can tell you that it's a different adventure every time, and that the best stories often come from the worst shows. I know my first time out I had no men audition (three parts), and 6 older women (1 part), and no younger women (1 part). Somehow I begged the right people to help, and it came off beautifully anyway. Bottom line, just give it your best, and everyone else will, too. The audience can't help but have fun! And the stories are really worth it!

  7. ME: I like Rum and Coke

    C3: Coool! More theater folks. Woo hoo! This has inspired me to share some of my more entertaining theater experiences in future blogs. Like the time I had a sewing machine dropped on my head at intermission and I don't remember anything about the second act that followed.

  8. Maybe I'll come see this big production when it's done. Then again, I probably have to drive to Canada to see it. Maybe MET will take me!!


  9. For the record... I am SO jealous! I love to be on stage! Love it! Infact, that is how I met Andy-the-great! Since we have decided to have Gabrielle and then Griffin...I guess I will keep the home fires burning!
    Without complaint....well, maybe a few!